Student arrests defame U.
When the student body votes each spring and fall for our student government, we acknowledge that we as students cannot all speak at once. We elect an assembly to represent and speak for us. We vote for the best and brightest men and women of our University and place them in a position of responsibility. First and foremost, these representatives serve as our link to the administration. Beyond dialoguing with the vast University bureaucracy, they also represent our university to the world. They release statements regarding important events in our University and the surrounding area, giving a voice to the student body.
With this image of our noble representatives in mind, I was shocked to see a rather distressed man on the front page of The Daily Targum on Tuesday, March 27. I recognized the man to be none other than the Rutgers University Student Assembly president Matt Cordeiro. To me, he looked shocked, as if he was blinded by the sun. I was as shocked as Cordeiro looked, outraged that my voice, my representative, was handcuffed in Washington, D.C. Upon reading the article in the Targum, I discovered that he had been arrested for protesting outside of Sallie Mae on the topic of student debt. Cordeiro said he knew he would be arrested if he did not leave. I do not see the purpose of him being arrested. This man’s quarrel was with Sallie Mae, not the police of Washington, D.C.
I read further and reached a quote from another one of our trusted representatives, RUSA Vice President John Connelly. He said there might be some people at the University who don’t know who Cordeiro is. Again, I recoiled from the paper, horrified. How could any responsible, civically minded member of this institution not participate in the assembly process? How could anyone not know our representatives or at the very least our president Cordeiro? Connelly went on to say that the goal of this protest was similar to the “Walk Into Action.” A shudder went down my spine as I remembered the first “Walk Into Action” last spring. I was in a lecture in Murray Hall on the College Avenue campus. A crowd of people ran down the hallway shouting and banging desks. Someone had a megaphone. For more than five minutes, class came to screeching halt.
I turned back to the front page and looked again into the face of Cordeiro. I saw a different man than my first impression of him. This time, he did not look shocked, rather, Cordeiro appeared serene and accepting of his fate. In that picture I saw my own face and the face of every University student. I imagined this University in handcuffs for protesting. But protesting what? I will not speak for my fellow students, but I have no desire to disrupt the traffic of Washington, D.C. or to shout into a megaphone in Voorhees Mall.
I turned away repulsed. I put my faith in an assembly to represent me — not embark on a personal crusade. The Targum headline read “RUSA president among arrested in student debt protest,” not “Three University students arrested.” As Cordeiro was participating in the protest as part of the United States Student Assembly Conference, I can only infer that he was acting on behalf of our student assembly. I was ashamed to be associated with people who could play so callously with the reputation of my University. I envisioned an assembly of honorable men and women acting respectfully and professionally as befitting the prestige of Rutgers University, my University.
Carl Levitt is a School of Arts and Sciences junior.